Buying or upgrading your assembly station in 2021? We help you navigate the software/hardware landscape with this comprehensive guide. The world of computer technology is changing so fast that last year’s buying tips might just be wrong if you buy a machine today. So here we are with an updated guide to Mac and PC hardware and what brings you reliability and ease of workflow at a reasonable price.
Choice of operating system
Let’s eliminate this in advance: if you’re a Mac lover, you want a Mac. I’m catching on. Personally, as a Mac fan, I’ve also enjoyed the modern Windows 10 platform, but I’ve looked at the frustration of other Mac users trying to make a PC “run like a Mac.””So I’m not going to try to convert anyone, but I’m going to disclose the options.
Mac OS X
Video Workstation Buyer’s Guide 2021 43 for video editing, OS X is an easy choice. Premiere Pro, Davinci Resolve, and AVID all happily run on OS X (like many niche platforms, like Lightworks). You won’t be using Vegas Pro, but if you already are, it’s pretty much a given that you’re an unconditional Windows user.
So, are there any reasons why you wouldn’t choose OS X as the operating system for your editing workstation? Yes, and (apart from the cost of the hardware, which we will cover after), they focus mainly on one question: what else do you want with your computer?
If 95% of your life is spent in an NLE, you really have nothing to worry about. Secondary applications like Photoshop, After Effects, and MS Word all work well on OS X. Where the water gets muddy, it’s creating specialized digital content like 3D animation, virtual reality, and virtual production.
While most 3D majors support Mac-Maya, film 4D, Blender, modo, Houdini—the performance of Mac versions can begin to drag Windows desktops at an equivalent price. Houdini seems to get a little less love for quality assurance on the Mac side, and when it comes to GPU-based rendering and acceleration, many products simply won’t work without an Nvidia card.
In fact, the Nvidia problem is one of the biggest problems when working exclusively on Mac. Many machine learning and graphics applications use NVIDIA’s CUDA and Tensor cores to work. Since it seems to be bleeding between the Nvidia McCoys and the Apple Hatfields, it is unlikely that you will soon see an Nvidia RTX 3090 card running on a modern Mac. Even with global scarcity, you’re almost as unlikely to see one on a PC…
Virtual production is another potential red flag zone. When investing in a workplace that you plan to use for the next 2-3 years, consider the rapidly developing field of virtual production (VP) in your decision. Aside from the proprietary ILM software, Epic Games ‘ Unreal Engine is the reigning champion of vice president work. And although there is technically a Mac version of Unreal Engine, it’s pretty terrible; the performance is paralyzed compared to the Windows version. (In fact, if you have an Intel-based Mac, it’s probably better to run Unreal Engine under Boot Camp than run the OS x version.) With the current study between Epic and Apple (hmm, more bad blood…) don’t expect Epic to put a lot of effort into improving Mac performance. If you’re thinking of creating or editing virtual assemblies as part of your work, rely on either the exclusive purchase of a Windows workstation or the purchase of a Windows workstation only for VP jobs.
After all, if you want to plunge into the world of virtual reality, OS X is a difficult choice. While Apple has signaled its intention to get into the VR space (at least the rumors have reported this), we have not yet seen any hardware. The juggernaut that is the Oculus Quest 2 of 300D US (which supports wireless connection to a Windows PC as a Rift headset) dominates the virtual reality market, and Facebook seems to have no interest in making it an OS x product. Even with a stellar entry from Apple into the VR hardware space, they would have a lot of catching up to do on the software side to pique consumer interest. In other words, when it comes to Windows VR, this is pretty much your only option. (Yes, OK, Valve theoretically supports Linux, but let’s keep the actual conversation here.)